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Ivo Opstelten. Wikipedia

Minister implicated in political trial against Geert Wilders

Former Dutch Justice Minsiter Ivo Opstelten discussed the prosecution of Geert Wilders for hate speech with the Public Prosecution Service even before a decision to prosecute Wilders had been made.

Published: September 2, 2019, 11:02 am

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    The Hague

    RTL Nieuws published a secret official document from the Ministry of Justice and Security showing that Wilders was hounded for political reasons. The broadcaster received the document after an appeal to the Public Access Act.

    The document, dated 16 September 2014, noted an “intended decision” on the Wilders hate speech case, and therefore neither definite nor final. The date is of particular importance, because the Public Prosecution Service has been claiming that the decision to prosecute Wilders was made on September 10.

    This clearly shows that the Minister and Public Prosecution Service had discussed the hate speech trial of Wilders even before the decision was made to prosecute him. According to RTL, the Ministry also had press releases from the Public Prosecutor changed, “because that would be better for politics”.

    Opstelten was thus personally involved in the decision of the Public Prosecution Service to prosecute Geert Wilders. He said that Wilders had to be prosecuted “because he is being a bother to us”.

    Opstelten wrote in red on the note that he wanted to discuss Wilders’ trial with Herman Bolhaar, then the highest official at the Public Prosecution Service.

    Geert Wilders immediately responded via Twitter to the publication, which he called “disgusting and shameful.” He said a VVD minister had wanted to destroy the leader of an opposition party.

    He expressed his indignation at the shameless manipulation: “The ministry officials have also been involved in press releases from the Public Prosecution Service, which were then adjusted”, Wilders told public broadcaster NOS. He too believes there was a political motive.

    “You see this in Cuba and North Korea. That a leader or a political opponent is eliminated.” He thinks that Ministry officials substantively influenced the Prosecutor and believes that he had been lied to.

    “On Tuesday, when the trial continues, this lawsuit must be stopped immediately.”

    The Public Prosecution Service was not available to comment to on Friday. To RTL a Prosecution spokesperson said that they would not comment on an ongoing case.

    Coalition party D66 said they were surprised. MP Maarten Groothuizen told Dagblad van het Noorden that it is high time that Justice Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus “puts things right after the chaos the VVD caused”. According to the Member of Parliament, the disclosure is not an isolated case. “Top officials are giving the impression of hunting down a whistleblower and there is always new information about alleged interference with the case against Wilders.”

    SP leader Lilian Marijnissen said on Twitter: “A minister who interferes in a criminal case against a politician is serious. Why has Minister Grapperhaus not been honest about this.”

    PvdA parliamentarian Attje Kuiken posted parliamentary questions, asking Grapperhaus to clarify exactly what was discussed between the Ministry and the Public Prosecution Service before the decision was made to prosecute Wilders.

    Wilders is on trial for statements he made about Moroccans while campaigning in The Hague on 2014. He a crowd of supporters whether they wanted “more or fewer Moroccans in this city and the Netherlands”. The audience responded by chanting “fewer, fewer, fewer”. And Wilders said: “Well, we will arrange that.”

    He also said that The Hague should accomodate fewer Moroccans. On December 9, 2016, Wilders was found guilty of insulting a group of people and inciting discrimination.

    An appeal against the sentence is currently ongoing.

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